25 Cheeky Questions: Matt Cantwell

To most people in the Sydney landscape industry, Matt Cantwell needs no introduction. For the rest of you, Matt is the director of Secret Gardens, one of Sydney’s most highly regarded landscape design and construction firms. Matt started Secret Gardens way back in 1994 and now employs over 40 designers, landscape architects, structural landscapers, and horticulturalists.  I asked Matt some cheeky questions about life and plants. This is what he said:

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, and your life with plants?
I have been working in gardens for over 25 years. I’ve seen and done a lot of things that I never thought would be in a garden. Nothing excites me more though than plants. Great planting always looks better than garden bling. I have a lot of eye candy in my garden but my friends ask me more about the plants than anything else.

Do you sleep naked?

What makes a great garden?
Trees, and people using the garden.

If you were a plant, what would you be?
Plectanthus nico. I like to think that I appear pleasant and harmless enough to people I meet. But I do have a dark side.

What cheers you up?
My 3 kids

What do you like most about being a landscape designer?
When I walk through a client’s door for the first time I never know what will be on the other side. Every new job presents a new challenge. And I’m not just talking about the garden…

Is there anything you dislike about it?
No. Secret Gardens is 21 this year. The only time I have woken in the morning and thought I don’t want to go to work is after I have had too much fun the night before.

What is the habit you are proudest of breaking or want to break?
When I stopped smoking several years ago and discovered breakfast.

What is your favourite word?
Seriously? Something amazes me every day.

Have you ever been in love with two people at the same time?
I love my mum, and I love my wife. But sometimes I love myself even more 🙂

Name a skill you wish you had.
My wife Rochelle gave me the nickname ‘’muzzle’’. I could do with a filter sometimes.

What is the most played song on your playlist?
‘’Lover you should’ve come over’’ by Jeff Buckley.

If you had to make a garden with 3 plants, what would they be?
Banksia integrifolia for shade, Zoisya tenuifolia to roll around on, and Carissa ‘Desert Star’ so I can play with my secateurs.

What makes somebody sexy? (Apart from confidence!)
Nice eyes and a cheeky side.

What do you miss most about being a kid?
My dad.

What’s the first thing you notice about people?
Eyes, smile and clothes.

What is your favourite natural scent?
Jasminum polyanthum. I would never want to wear it but it tells me that spring has arrived.

What qualities in people do you admire the most?
Integrity and sincerity, the ability to admit your mistakes, and laugh at your own expense.

What would you be doing in an alternate life or career?
Travelling. I keep thinking of all the places I am yet to visit and am worried that I am running out of time.

What’s your perfect three course meal?
Oysters and sashimi for entrée, pork belly..And some time later a selection of cheeses.

Do you have a favourite garden?
My garden. It’s the one I get to spend the most time in and I have some really great, large trees. We entertain regularly; it’s great for parties, young and old, usually both at the same time.

What is special about where you live?
It is completely private, you never hear a car and we are close to the beach.

If you could control your dreams, what would you dream about?
Flying, I love those ones.

What’s your favourite kind of weather?
I love the heat, and I love getting wet. But at night I prefer it when it rains, the harder the better.

How many people are you completely yourself with?
As I have gotten older I have become really quite relaxed, particularly with clients. I’m quite amazed at what I get away with saying at times. Though Rochelle would probably be reaching for that muzzle.

© Secret Gardens
© Secret Gardens
© Secret Gardens
© Secret Gardens
© Secret Gardens
© Secret Gardens